They were not traditionalists.
They could bear the innovations
               of plot. They could not
wait to landscape the plot. They had plans
                              for a bed of pansies because pansies
                              hardly ever die
                                                            in a cold snap,
                              because pansies are hardy despite the name.
When they shoved the trowel
                                             into the soil
it was with his hand
                                             on the handle and hers                                                                            adding force.
They knew there were only
                                                            nine types of people in the world
and they knew which ones
would close the deal. They knew
the shirkers by sight.
                                             They had options.
They knew about Required Communication.
                              About how I feel and you feel.
When there was a question
                                             of who did the dishes
                                             and who did the cat box,
                                             it was settled in-house
                              and never required an outside contractor.

But the pansies got stem spot, leaf rot, and mildew.
When they looked at their options
               it seemed there weren’t really that many
                                                                                            after all.
They swore to uphold the bonds
                                                      and the principles
                                                      and the yelling.
They swore to oral sex.
They dressed to the nines and they walked the aisle.
They stood up and received the standard narration.

Rebecca Hazelton, “Vow” from Vow. Copyright © 2013 by Rebecca Hazelton. Reprinted by permission of Cleveland State University Press Poetry Center.
Source: Vow (Cleveland State University Press Poetry Center, 2013)
More Poems by Rebecca Hazelton